Students, faculty demand single-use product ban

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Marshall Sustainability Club

Marshall’s sustainability club gathers trash from residence halls.

Collecting plastic from Marshall University dorms, the sustainability club and department faculty organized plastic data last week for the “Break Free from Plastic” brand audit to reduce single-use products and create a proposal to increase recycling on campus.  

“I am fortunate enough to be able to choose zero waste items and avoid plastic packaging as much as I can,” Sustainability Club president, Baleigh Epperly said. But I am dedicating my life and my career to sustainability so that I can help ensure that West Virginians and people around the world have the same access to these choices.” 

With the help of sustainability department manager, Amy White, and 13 Marshall students, gathered trash from the Commons and Twin Towers Residence Halls to organize at the football stadium parking lot. Due to the wind, the group moved their tools and trash inside to prevent trash from flying away.  

After the five-hour process, Epperly said approximately 195 plastic items were recycled and 829 plastic items were not– adding up to 1,024 total plastic products.  

White said the proposal requests Marshall University and the food service operation, Sodexo, to observe the demand of a plastic and styrofoam-free campus and provides a petition of nearly 1,000 signatures. She said most of this waste comes from the student center restaurants that use styrofoam, which is considered a single-use product.  

The proposal reads, “We believe that at our University where we commune to establish our futures, that our future be valued over convenience.” 

Some of these students and faculty members started their sustainability lifestyles at a young age.  

Kenlee Bonecutter, sophomore dietetics major, said her sustainability awareness started through 4-H and youth leadership programs that taught her about recycling and reusable energy sources.  

“From then on, I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. I don’t want to see my community and environment suffer,” Bonecutter said.  

Having the resources and an environment to learn about sustainability helps create jobs dedicated to the lifestyle.  

White said growing up on a farm during her childhood has allowed her transition into a sustainability field to be “pretty easy.” 

“A sustainable lifestyle is not just about hugging trees,” White said. “It is about prudent financial decisions, reducing consumption of resources, and caring about the well-being of others.” 

Xena Bunton can be contacted at [email protected]